Roster and Position Changes
There were several names missing from the roster and several position changes that were evident when the Oklahoma State Cowboys began spring practice on Monday.
Let's start with the missing and the one that will likely grab fans the most is red-shirt freshman defensive end/athlete Louis Brown. The 6-5, 220-pound Brown from Burton, Texas certainly had an expected upside but he was not able to get comfortable with college life by his own account.
In recruiting, he de-committed from Baylor to Texas and then Texas to Oklahoma State. The thought was Stillwater might be a small enough college centered community that he would be comfortable. Apparently, that wasn't the case. Brown is expected to transfer to a junior college and work to get acclimated before trying a four-year school again.
Also missing were wide receiver C.J. Curry and cornerback Chris Hardeman, and the easiest way to explain both is playing time. Curry, who would have been a senior, is going to transfer to a smaller school with the hopes of playing a lot in his final season of eligibility. His younger brother, Darius, who has played more, is still on the team as a cornerback.
Hardeman is a cornerback out of Alief Taylor in the Houston area. The 5-9, 178-pound Hardeman struggled to get on the field and will look to transfer with a couple of seasons of eligibility available.
As for position changes, wide receivers Keenan Brown and Cole Neph have both moved and are working with the Cowboys Backs (tight ends/fullbacks).
Neph is a walk-on out of Owasso that is 6-3, 230 pounds and is very athletic. He is so athletic that as a freshman he played the role of Washington quarterback Cyler Miles on the scout team in preparation for the Cactus Bowl. The defense said it helped tremendously. Neph played special teams primarily last season but has a lot of promise.
Keenan Brown was expected to play a lot last season as a wide receiver before he suffered an injury that held him out the entire season. Brown is now 6-3, 242 pounds but still very athletic and he could be a major match-up issue for defenders playing the tight end role as a Cowboy back.
On defense there is one position change as red-shirt freshman Bryce Balous is now listed as a cornerback. The speedster (4.33 speed in the 40) came in from McKinney North as a safety but he started working at corner late in the season and through the bowl practices.
Rudolph Prefers Brady
On the day that Peyton Manning announced his retirement from the NFL, in fact right about the same time that announcement was taking place in Denver, Oklahoma State starting quarterback Mason Rudolph was stating that he is more of a Tom Brady guy than a Manning guy. Although the runner-up last summer of the college skills competition at the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., did say he respects and admires both Manning and his favorite Tom Brady.
"I have tremendous respect for the both of them," Rudolph said with diplomacy although he had already stated his favoritism for Brady. "I admire both but I definitely love watching Brady play."
Preparing for Pro Day
The Oklahoma State Pro Day will be tomorrow morning starting at 11 a.m. in the OSU weight room in the West End Zone facility as they will start with measurements, bench press reps, and high jump and broad jump. The event will then move across the street with the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle (5-10-5), and position drills for the scouts.
Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah has said he will do the three-cone drill again and any position drills requested. Cornerback Kevin Peterson is expected to do a mostly complete workout. It is unsure what defensive end Jimmy Bean will be able to do with his knee at this point. He may have to schedule a later workout for the scouts and coaches.
Several other players will be working out and some were at practice today. Senior cornerback Michael Hunter told me that he has averaged 4.4 in his workouts at a training center in Dallas and expects to run really well on Tuesday. Slot receiver David Glidden has been working hard and will work out for the scouts.
Long snapper Josh Elias flew in from California and despite working full time at a construction company he is going to snap for the scouts and coaches. "I'm not going to do any of the running and I'll save my bench press reps for some other time," Elias laughed. "I'm just going to snap. I'd like to get a chance to get into a (training) camp."
We also know that linebacker Ryan Simmons is going to workout, and others could include defensive end Trace Clark and wide receiver Brandon Sheperd.
Recruit in the House
LaQuantis Hennington is a 6-5, 230-pound tight end from Dallas (Bishop Dunne), Texas and he was at the Oklahoma State practice on Monday with his parents. Bishop Dunne is an active school this recruiting season with the Cowboys already having defensive tackle Darrion Daniels from there and Daniels played and played well as a freshman.
His younger brother, Damion, is a senior this coming season along with Hennington and also wide receiver Reggie Roberson. The younger Daniles has a bunch of offers and actually had five offers come his way in one day from Texas, Ole Miss, Angelo State, Michigan, and Iowa State. Oklahoma State has offered the younger Daniels as well.
Hennington is a young senior and will turn 17 in August. He has a 4.9 in the forty and a 28-inch vertical to go with his size.
Lookout for Balous and Green
One of the Cowboys leaders in the secondary in safety Jordan Sterns, who was asked if he has noticed any up and coming players in the back end of the defense that would surprise us. Sterns was ready with two freshmen that red-shirted last season. One is a safety that goes by just a letter, "Z," with his teammates and a blazing young player that came in last summer as a safety but has moved outside and has looked really good with the switch to cornerback.
"Bryce [Balous] stood out in bowl practices," Sterns said. "He was going out and getting a lot of reps and he had just been moved to corner and he was showing off his speed and his overall ability. There is another guy, Z (Za'Carrius Green) and he makes plays and he is about as strong as me and he is only a freshman, so I'm looking forward to those guys and what they can do. He is a big dude and will hit you."
Gundy Says So Far So Good for Williams
Obviously, the offensive line is a focal point for spring football with all the starters back off a line that protected the passer pretty well, but between the line, the running backs and the rest of the offense the run game struggled all season long.
A key newcomer is junior college All-American Larry Williams, who played tackle at Hutchinson Community College last season and was a tackle previously at East Carolina. He is starting out at guard this spring and certainly looks the part at 6-4, 318 pounds. Head coach Mike Gundy was asked if he expects Williams will make a huge difference.
"So far, yes (we think he can be an impact guy)," Gundy answered. "He hasn't taken a snap yet. He's had a really good offseason and he has shown maturity and has not shown up on a class miss list. We haven't had any issues with him in the time he has been here which is two months. He has developed his body. I think he is up to 325 pounds and he runs well.
"The best answer I can give you now is we think he can help us and in three weeks I can give you a better opinion on if he can be effective enough to help us in the first game."
Gundy on Henson as Offensive Analyst
Gundy was asked by one media member to respond to the Go Pokes report that Josh Henson is expected to be named the offensive analyst to replace Darrell Wyatt. Henson, a former Oklahoma State player and assistant coach, was most recently the offensive coordinator at Missouri.
We have learned Henson had several analyst opportunities at other schools but being an Oklahoma State alum and he and his wife Oklahoma natives this opportunity is preferred. Gundy was as optimistic as we had been led to believe by several sources causing us to write our story this weekend.
"He's kind of the leading candidate right now and he is coming into interview tomorrow," Gundy said of Henson, who was on Gundy's offensive staff as tight ends coach when the current head coach was offensive coordinator at OSU for Miles. "We'd like for him to like the position enough for him to join us and everybody around here is familiar with Josh and being in the SEC a number of years and obviously, as a coordinator at Missouri brings a lot of experience.
"He was well-trained, not only as a coach but as a player and was coached by Les Miles here as an assistant with him at LSU. Les is one of the best in the run game and offensive line coaches that I've ever been around. I'm excited for him to come in here and if it works out then gell with the offensive staff and Greg (Adkins) and (Jason) McEndoo. He should help our football teams if we can get him up and get him going."
Henson was on the sidelines of the first practice in street clothes just watching, so it is obvious that his hiring is not official as of yet. But our sources tell us he could be in Oklahoma State coaching gear and working as soon as Wednesday. We will keep watching.